O’Neil: Seahawks could pay closer attention to players’ expiration dates

Apr 19, 2018, 10:50 PM

There were signs Richard Sherman was done with the Seahawks before last season. (AP)...

There were signs Richard Sherman was done with the Seahawks before last season. (AP)


Maybe Pete Carroll’s message did get stale, as Richard Sherman said last month after the Seahawks released him.

Perhaps things were boring, which is why Michael Bennett felt compelled to not only read a book while the coach was speaking last season but to tell Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated that he had done so.

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It’s possible that Carroll’s message does start to lose its effect after a player’s fifth, sixth or even seventh season on the team.

That doesn’t make me question the coach, though. There’s eight years of pretty compelling evidence that Carroll is not – in fact – a coach better suited to college. He’s a great coach, period.

I’m wondering about the players. Not just the professionalism of these two players in particular – though that’s a great starting point – but whether Seattle would be better served by being more selective about who sticks around past a fifth season.

That doesn’t mean there should be a hard cutoff. K.J. Wright has been fantastic. Doug Baldwin has grown into a true leader. Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson are rock solid, too. But there seems to be an expiration date for some guys. If this were a grocery store, the Seahawks should start studying the best-used-by dates and giving a real good sniff test about the fifth season to see if a veteran is starting to sour.

That would have saved a lot of time and aggravation when it came to Marshawn Lynch. By the end of his sixth season with the team, his relationship with the coach and front office had deteriorated to the point that no one knew he wasn’t going to be able to play in a playoff game at Minnesota until he didn’t get on the bus.

There were signs Sherman was starting to turn, too.

His sixth season was 2016, which included two different tantrums on the sidelines. The first one followed a blown coverage against Atlanta in Week 6. The second came after the Seahawks attempted a pass from the 1-yard line on a Thursday night game against the Rams. Not only was Sherman upset, he spelled out – in detail – why he was upset to reporters after the game and repeated the criticism a week later.

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The Seahawks could have traded him last year. They didn’t, as no one offered up the first-round and third-round picks they were seeking. After an Achilles injury midway through the 2017 season, he was released to save $11 million in salary-cap charges.

After his release, he was interviewed by Joe Thomas – the former All-Pro lineman from the Browns – for a podcast on Uninterrupted.

“His philosophy is more built for college,” Sherman said of Carroll. “Four years, guys rotate in, rotate out. We had kind of heard all his stories, we had kind of heard every story, every funny anecdote that he had. And honestly because he just recycles them. And they’re cool stories, they’re great for team chemistry and building, etcetera, etcetera.

“But we had literally heard them all. We could recite them before he even started to say them.”

Maybe that’s why Bennett felt compelled to break out a book last year.

I think that speaks to his lack of professionalism, but this isn’t an argument about etiquette. It’s ultimately about the effectiveness. And the behavior of some of the veterans on Seattle’s team – guys who have been valued and praised and developed by Carroll’s system – shows pretty clearly that keeping some players around doesn’t wind up making anyone happy.

Not them and certainly not the team.

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